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Opening car doors, folding paper and AI


Exponential growth shows us that folding a theoretical piece of tissue thin paper can get you to the moon - and back - with a remarkably small number of folds - for a 5 minute TED video of this click here (via @YouTube ).

I started in computer chip technology in 1992 when a 1MB of RAM from the factory cost US$25 each for a small black computer chip approximately 18mm x 7mm x 5mm with 16 pins soldered onto a printed circuit board - 4 of these made up a 4MB module for PCs so this module cost in the region of US100.  A few weeks ago, IBM released a new computer - yes computer - that is smaller than a grain of rice and if you'd like, you can buy a Raspberry Pi for less than AUD$60 - that is more powerful than a laptop from 10 years ago!

10 or so years ago my friend's grandfather of 92 years told me with almost childlike fascination and delight, that ''Did you know, you can unlock a car door without inserting a key!!''.  That simple task fascinated him as it was nothing like he had ever experienced before - this is what the future will be for many of us: a series of amazements and trying to explain to generations growing up with this and who accept it as being the norm, how fascinating that actually was.

Much like the folding paper analogy which is about the power of growth, the power of miniaturisation and knock-on exponential capabilities will have a dramatic effect in other areas, such as those powering Artificial Intelligence. 

IBMs Watson is forecast to be capable of being run on a handheld mobile phone sized device within the next 3 - 5 years which can seem impossible to grasp as we tend to dismiss future advances as we view them through the lens of our own experiences.  As Big Data grows too at an exponential rate, using AI to analyse the content and offer up suggestions will increasingly take hold in the medical, legal and financial world.  It won't spell the death of these professions, but each must understand and embrace the potential of the impacts to their professions at the same time.

Alan FitzGerald